Guy Roulot, a legendary producer of some of the finest Meursaults, if not some of the world’s finest white wines, took his family’s small production domaine to stardom. Guy’s marriage to Geneviève Coche and his own hard work added more prime parcels to the family’s holdings, which he vinified and bottled separately – a novelty for a domaine which had been distilling, rather than vinifying, their grapes just a generation before. As a result, Domaine Roulot has become the master of the lieu-dit, not to mention multiple premier cru parcels they farm across Meursault and Auxey-Duresses. Guy’s sudden death in 1982 left the family in transition, as his son, Jean-Marc was in Paris pursuing a career in acting. A series of three winemakers aided in the changeover until 1989, when Jean-Marc was at last ready to take on the direction of the estate. Since then, Jean-Marc’s progress has brought even more notice to a domaine that had already enjoyed a great reputation. The wines of Domaine Roulot are now among the most sought after wines in all of Burgundy. Jean-Marc has been successful in fine-tuning the domaine’s particular, stand-out style. While Domaine Roulot had once pioneered the single-vineyard bottlings of Meursault, they were now influencing other domaines to follow suit, thereby raising the stakes in this exalted appellation. What sets the domaine even further apart is Jean-Marc’s commitment to a bright, chiseled, thoroughbred style of Meursault, while many other wines of this village tend towards richness and concentration. Jean-Marc’s wines certainly express a certain depth and sumptuousness thanks to the appellation’s terroir, yet they also show focus and restraint. Their elegance and amazing precision lend themselves to long aging in the cellars. Jean-Marc loves cooking and believes the strong mineral backbone of his wines and their fresh acidity marry well with food.
In eastern central France, Burgundy is nestled between the wine regions of Champagne to the north, the Jura to the east, the Loire to the west, and the Rhône to the south. This is the terroir par excellence for producing world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The southeast-facing hillside between Dijon in the north and Maranges in the south is known as the Côte d’Or or “golden slope.” The Côte d’Or comprises two main sections, both composed of limestone and clay soils: the Côte de Nuits in the northern sector, and the Côte de Beaune in the south. Both areas produce magnificent whites and reds, although the Côte de Beaune produces more white wine and the Côte de Nuits more red.
Chablis is Burgundy’s northern outpost, known for its flinty and age-worthy Chardonnays planted in Kimmeridgian limestone on an ancient seabed. Vézelay is a smaller area south of Chablis with similar qualities, although the limestone there is not Kimmeridgian.
To the south of the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise extends from Chagny on its northern end, down past Chalon-sur-Saône and encompasses the appellations of Bouzeron in the north, followed by Rully, Mercurey, Givry, and Montagny.
Directly south of the Chalonnaise begins the Côte Mâconnais, which extends south past Mâcon to the hamlets of Fuissé, Vinzelles, Chaintré, and Saint-Véran. The Mâconnais is prime Chardonnay country and contains an incredible diversity of soils.
Trust the great winemakers, trust the great vineyards. Your wine merchant might even be trustworthy. In the long run, that vintage strip may be the least important guide to quality on your bottle of wine.—Kermit Lynch
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